Notable statements on international law during April 2020

Published: 02 June 2020 Author: Stefan Talmon

Throughout the year, Germany makes numerous statements on international law. Not all these statements form part of a case study presented on GPIL. However, these statements may nevertheless be of interest to international lawyers. We therefore compile these statements on a monthly basis.

2 April 2020

In response to a parliamentary question on how the Federal Government supported the implementation of the UN resolution on “Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes” which had been sponsored by Russia, the Federal Government declared:

“The Federal Government – like all Member States of the European Union – did not support the resolution of the UN General Assembly on “Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes”, which was adopted by majority on 27 December 2019 and which provides for the development of a new UN instrument.[] The Federal Government sees the need for further measures to effectively combat crime in this area, but does not see the need for a new international treaty under the auspices of the United Nations. The Federal Government is concerned that such a treaty could lower the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and facilitate State control over the Internet. The Federal Government continues to view the Budapest Convention, which is also open to non-member States of the Council of Europe, as the primary means for combatting crime in this area. This is also true with regard t the standard of legal protection guaranteed in that Convention.”

8 April 2020

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Investigation and Identification Team on the use of chemical weapons in Syria in March 2017 reported that the attacks were carried out by air force units belonging to the Syrian Government of President Assad. Commenting on the report, Federal Minister of Foreign Affair Heiko Maas stated:

“We have always made it clear that we condemn the illegal use of chemical weapons in Syria in the strongest possible terms. Such a blatant violation of international law cannot go unpunished.”

9 April 2020

During a closed VTC meeting of the UN Security Council on the Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the German permanent representative to the United Nations in New York stated:

“[T]his pandemic is an international peace and security issue. It is the primary responsibility of the Council to react to any such threats and to maintain international peace and security.”

10 April 2020

Following the meeting of the UN Security Council on COVID-19, Federal Foreign Minister Maas stated:

“[A] pandemic like Covid-19 exacerbates existing conflicts and has the potential to further destabilise already fragile states and regions. […] The Security Council must also fulfil its responsibility in addressing the pandemic and its impacts on the existing crises and conflicts around the world.”

21 April 2020

During the Security Council VTC Meeting on Protecting civilians from conflict-induced hunger, the German representative stated:

“In 2018, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2417, condemning the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, as well as the denial of humanitarian assistance in conflict situations. This landmark resolution paved the way for addressing conflict-induced hunger, underlying the clear causal link between armed conflict, food insecurity and starvation. […]

In that context, let me also stress […] the importance which Resolution 2417 attaches to the adherence to international humanitarian law and to sustaining humanitarian access. All parties to a conflict must comply with their obligations under international law, and we as Security Council members should help create the conditions that allow humanitarian workers deliver principled humanitarian assistance and bring relief to those most in need.”

22 April 2020

During the Security Council VTC Meeting on the Great Lakes Region, the German representative stated:

“It is also crucial to underscore that any efforts to fight and contain the pandemic must not be used to serve as a pretext to limit or curb human rights or allow for impunity in cases of human rights violations.”

23 April 2020

During the Security Council VTC Meeting on the Situation in the Middle East, the German representative declared:

“Recalling their respective responsibilities and obligations under international law and international humanitarian law, we call on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to ensure the delivery of COVID-19 related aid and to facilitate the access and movement of medical supplies, equipment, materials and personnel, in particular to the vulnerable population in the Gaza Strip. […].

We strongly advise any Israeli Government against the annexation of occupied Palestinian territories. This would constitute a clear violation of international law and not only have serious, negative repercussions for the viability of the two-State solution and the entire peace process but potentially also for regional stability and Israel’s standing within the international community.

Germany will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, unless agreed to by both parties and we will continue to distinguish between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967. In this context, we reiterate our position that Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law and severely undermine the prospects for ending the occupation and achieving a negotiated two-State-solution.”

24 April 2020

The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office issued the following statement together with European colleagues:

“Efforts in response to the global crisis have far-reaching repercussions on the enjoyment of human rights, including for women, girls and marginalized groups: the global response must address their particular needs. Any restrictive and emergency measures must comply with international law.”

24 April 2020

In response to a parliamentary question on U.S. extraterritorial sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, the Federal Government declared that it “objects to extraterritorial secondary sanctions on grounds of principle.”

28 April 2020

In a statement on human rights protection in the Covid-19 pandemic, the Federal Foreign Minister noted that “the pandemic is increasingly giving way to a human rights crisis. […] At the heart of this is the fact that every human being has a right to life as well as access to healthcare. […] This also applies to the fair and equitable access to vaccines and medicines.”

28 April 2020

In response to a parliamentary question on the Federal Government’s position on a claim for compensation against the Chinese State for the economic damage caused by the corona virus pandemic based on international law or other grounds, the Parliamentary Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development stated:

“From the Federal Government’s point of view, there is no question of any financial compensation claims against China.”

Category: International law in general

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  • Stefan Talmon

    Stefan Talmon is Professor of Public Law, Public International Law and European Union Law, and Director at the Institute of Public International Law at the University of Bonn. He is also a Supernumerary Fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford, and practices as a Barrister from Twenty Essex, London. He is the editor of GPIL.

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